The Curry Question is from my first book Down With Frogs, this is it’s first draft…
Neil offered to cook me a romantic dinner, given that the last time someone cooked me a ‘romantic dinner’ they ended up in A & E I wasn’t as keen as you might think; anyway, he wanted to cook, so I said yes and hoped this time dinner wouldn’t involve a burns unit. On the chosen evening I was greeted by an indefinable smell, it was spicy, it was sort of something, it wasn’t instantly recognisable, and I was mildly concerned. Neil wouldn’t let me near the kitchen, which is quite tricky in an open plan house, so I sat on the other side of the living room listening to his day with 15% of my mind still trying to work out what that smell reminded me of. The moment arrived, the plates were coming to the table, and I saw… something blobby orange in the style of, a fresh cowpat. Now, this is not a story about ha, ha, men cannot cook, they are domestic idiots; many men can create culinary masterpieces, which have their partners rubbing their hands together and smacking their lips with glee when it is their turn to cook. All I am saying is that Neil was not one of those men.
I wondered whether he had forgotten that he was cooking and so had grabbed something from the ready meal aisle and was passing it off as his own; sadly I was not that lucky. Moving the orange around I thought I saw pink, prawns? But no, there was nothing of that shape, no point trying to guess, so I ask ‘what have you called your masterpiece?’ ‘Crabstick curry’ says he proudly. I try not to look visibly horrified and feel instantly annoyed with myself that I hadn’t thought to practise my poker face lately. He had planned this meal, thinking crabsticks are very low in calories, so by definition must be much healthier than the traditional lamb, prawn or even chicken. He had bought the supermarket’s cheapest own brand of curry sauce as ‘they are all basically the same aren’t they?’ Hence the colour, and hadn’t remembered any veg but stated confidently ‘I don’t think it needs them’. Holy crap, a jar of curry sauce with crab sticks, which I wouldn’t eat by themselves, let alone covered in cheap sauce. That explained why I couldn’t identify the smell, crabsticks are actually made from fish, but I had heard an internet rumour once that they were made of cow’s intestines, and have never eaten one from that day to this; also I wasn’t sure that they were supposed to be cooked. The texture achieved was both stringy and slimy, which is definitely not something that every foodstuff could accomplish, so well done crab sticks, or should I say crabstick manufacturers.
I did pick at it, and really did try to eat some of it, but after the first forkful I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish it, and didn’t think throwing up on the table would be proper guest etiquette. In the end, I had no option but to admit defeat and pleaded a large lunch, and having eaten as much as I could, he really had given me a massive portion, far more than I could manage. Neil was suspicious, having seen me barge children out of the way in McDonald’s to get my post-gym Big Mac, and he knew I wasn’t a ‘one lettuce leaf and I am full’ kind of girl. I had to give a full five minutes praise about how inventive he was, and how much I appreciated all his efforts. Maybe I was coming down with something, and yes I did usually eat like a plague of locust (I wasn’t too happy at having to agree to this, but I needed a smoke screen to blot out my plate). And in a move, which both revolted me and excited my admiration, Neil managed to eat his own plate of food and then mine – what a trooper. The next morning I had a text from him saying he hoped I was alright as he had been up most of the night with my stomach bug. Fortunately, he didn’t seem to have passed it on to me.